Gold & Silver Daily

Ed's Critical Reads

Aug 23, 2014

Fed's Yellen calls for caution on rates; Draghi says ECB ready to act

The Federal Reserve should move cautiously in deciding when to raise interest rates given the U.S. labor market remains bruised from the Great Recession, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday amid calls from policy hawks for a near-term rate hike.

In a speech at the Fed's annual central bank conference, Yellen laid out in detail why she feels the unemployment rate alone is inadequate to evaluate the strength of the jobs market and why the central bank needs to step gingerly.

Her remarks were followed by a speech by the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, who said the ECB was ready to use all the tools at its disposal to lift euro zone inflation if it continued to drop. He said, however, that most factors that had weighed on prices appeared temporary.

Together, the comments from Yellen and Draghi underscored how both central banks were wrestling with the complexities of labor markets still-wracked by the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

This Reuters article, filed from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, showed up on their Internet site at 5:45 p.m. EDT on Friday afternoon---and today's first story is courtesy of Orlando, Florida reader Dennis Mong.

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The Chart That the U.S. Police Force Does Not Want You to See

The U.S. is #1 once again---that'll teach the cynics.

That's all the words there are to this Zero Hedge piece from early yesterday evening---and the chart is definitely worth the trip.  I thank reader M.A. for sending it along.

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More Scaremongery: Inhofe Warns ISIS "Developing a Method to Blow Up a Major U.S. City"

Thursday night it was SecDef Chuck Hagel who warned ISIS was a bigger threat to America than 9/11 and primed the narrative for the next round of defense-spending (and this deficit-boosting, QE-enabling money printing). Today it is Senate Armed Services Committee member Jim Inhofe who told Fox that "we're in the most dangerous position we've ever been in as a nation."

While that seems a little bit of stretch (oh and hasn't the Senator seen stocks?) he adds - rather ominously, "they're crazy out there and they're rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city and people just can't believe that's happening." But then again, when have we ever needed to 'believe' anything anyway (especially without YouTube clips to prove it).

As I said yesterday, the U.S. is being primed for its next false flag operation, which will certainly top the one the powers-that-be pulled for 9/11.  This commentary showed up on the Zero Hedge website at 2:19 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank reader 'David in California' for sending it around.

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Eric Sprott: Weekly Market Wrap-Up

In this week's commentary, Eric talks with Jeff Rutherford about the economy, Ebola---and next week's silver expiry.  This 7:47 minute audio interview was posted on the sprottmoney.com website on Friday afternoon.

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Two Jim Rickards Interviews

This first audio interview is with Craig Griffin over at ITM Trading---and it runs for 28:27 minutes---and was posted on the marketsanity.com Internet site on Wednesday.  The interview covers terrorism-backed insider trading, gold's role as a currency---and exponential risk.

The second interview was posted on the Russia Today website on Thursday.  It begins at the 4:55 minute mark and runs for a bit over 6 minutes.  The link to that is here---and I thank Harold Jacobsen for sharing both of these with us.

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Google Maps is tracking everywhere you go

Google probably already knows your age, your interests, and everything you've looked at online. But now, there's proof that Google knows where you are pretty much all of the time as well. And it's proof Google gave us!

Google's location tracking site shows exactly where you and your cell phone have been. It even conveniently breaks down the locations it shows by day, proving that not only is the tech giant aware of users' locations, but it's also keeping a detailed record.

All of this is either fine or incredibly creepy. Luckily, it's very easy to turn off the tracking ability on your phone. For Google to record data on your phone's location, you must have enabled both location reporting and location history.

Luckily, Google has provided step-by-step instructions for how to turn those off in case you're entirely creeped out. And if you're not, well, now you have Google to help you remember all those times you've gone down to the corner store for milk because it was the only thing open at 4 a.m.

This very interesting article appeared on the news.yahoo.com Internet site last Sunday---and for content reasons, had to wait for today's column.  I thank Casey Research's own Doug Hornig for bringing it to my attention---and now to yours.

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Argentina accuses U.S. Judge Griesa of "imperialist" attitude

Argentina on Friday accused the U.S. judge who called the country's debt restructuring plan illegal of making "imperialist" comments against the South American nation.

Argentine Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa's choice of words were "unfortunate, incorrect and even, I would say, imperialist expressions".

Griesa on Thursday said a proposed law announced by Argentina's president this week would violate orders he imposed favoring creditors who refused to accept restructured bonds following the country's record 2002 default.

These three paragraphs are all there is to this brief Reuters story. It was filed from Buenos Aires at 7:21 a.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for finding it for us.

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France to miss deficit target as economy hits standstill

France’s hopes of cutting its ballooning public deficit took a blow Thursday as new figures revealed that the country’s flagging economy remained at a standstill in the second quarter.

For the second quarter in a row, France’s gross domestic product saw zero growth in the three months to July, according to figures from national statistics office INSEE.

The figures prompted Finance Minister Michel Sapin to slash the government's forecast for growth in 2014 to "around 0.5 percent", compared with a previous projection of 1.0 percent.

This article appeared on the france24.com Internet site on Thursday sometime---and it's the first offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Facebook given deadline in ‘largest privacy class action in Europe’

Facebook has been given four weeks to respond to a class action, launched against it by an Austrian activist and supported by 60,000 users. The suit claims Facebook violated users' privacy, by cooperating with the NSA's PRISM program.

The class action initiated by Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer, data privacy activist and founder of Europe vs. Facebook group has passed its first review in the Vienna Regional Court.

Facebook Ireland, which runs the social network’s activities outside the U.S. and Canada, has been given four weeks to respond to the action.

"The order is very likely on the way to Facebook. The first step in the legal procedure is hereby taken," said a statement by Europe vs. Facebook on Thursday.

This article appeared on the Russia Today website at 12:53 p.m. Moscow time on Friday---and I thank reader Harry Grant for sliding it into my in-box in the wee hours of this morning.

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Russian Humanitarian Convoy Enters Ukraine Without Authorization; Ukraine Considers Move "Direct Invasion"

The farce is complete, although at least this time it didn't take Ukraine several hours to fabricate then unfabricate its plot line, because literally minutes after it accused Russia of invading, Ukraine's foreign minister said the convoy was "allowed" to avoid provocations.

He added that the rebel militants are using mortars on the convoy route and that it had taken all necessary steps to ensure cargo safety but that Russia wouldn't discuss security for the convoy.

Nonetheless it still accused Russia's convoy of breaking international law and said that convoy would go to separatists, not civilians, and called on its "international partners" (we suppose it means the CIA here, which apparently is feeding it this ridiculous script) to condemn the Russian convoy.

This Zero Hedge article put in an appearance on their website at 9:02 a.m. EDT on Friday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for sharing it with us.

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Trucks with Russian aid reach Lugansk, East Ukraine

Moscow has accused Kiev of placing political interests above humanism, adding that it is confident it made the right decision to order a convoy with Russian humanitarian aid to proceed to the conflict zone without waiting for further Ukrainian permission.

The Russian aid convoy on Friday finally reached Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, which has been devastated by repeated shelling. White Kamaz trucks delivered essentials such as food, water, medications, sleeping bags, and electric generators.

Twenty-four aid distribution centers have been set up in the city, 12 of which will open on Saturday morning, according to the administration of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Lugansk.

This article showed up on the Russia Today website at 7:49 a.m. Moscow time on their Friday morning which was ten minutes minutes before midnight in New York on Thursday night.  It's the second contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Russia Moves Artillery Units Into Ukraine, NATO Says

The Russian military has moved artillery units manned by Russian personnel inside Ukrainian territory in recent days and was using them to fire at Ukrainian forces, NATO officials said on Friday.

The West has long accused Russia of supporting the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, but this is the first time it has said it had evidence that the Russian military was operating in Ukrainian territory.

The Russian move represents a significant escalation of the Kremlin’s involvement in the fighting there and comes as a convoy of Russian trucks with humanitarian provisions has crossed into Ukrainian territory without Kiev’s permission.

The bulls hit out of the American press is beyond shameless.  This piece of pure propaganda appeared on The New York Times website yesterday sometime---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Russian Intrusion Hoax Exposed as Mistrust for Kiev Grows

The Ukrainian military authorities have failed to confirm their earlier claim that a Russian column, consisting of 1,200 military servicemen and 150 armored vehicles including tanks and Grad missile launchers, had entered the territory of Ukraine near Luhansk, Western mass media sources report.

"Muddled security officials in Ukraine were… forced to deny that a huge Russian military convoy had been deployed in the eastern rebel-run city of Luhansk. The strong rebuttal suggested an earlier claim about an invasion by Vladimir Putin's troops amounted to a crude propaganda move by the pro-Western Kiev government - or deep confusion in its own ranks," the Daily Mail emphasizes.

The controversial information came from Lt.-Gen. Igor Voronchenko, the head of the Ukrainian Anti Terrorist Operation (ATO) in Luhansk and was immediately "confirmed" by Dmitry Tymchuk, a Ukrainian military analyst.

"Unfortunately, we can confirm the fact that the column of Russian military equipment broke through to Luhansk to back up the local militants," wrote Tymchuk on his Facebook page on August 19. The military analyst, however, failed to explain how the column remained undetected by the Ukrainian forces while breaking through ATO's blockade line.

The Russian invasion hoax had been instantly disseminated via the mainstream Ukrainian media and had rapidly spread across the Internet.

This commentary appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 12:29 p.m. Moscow time yesterday---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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U.S. demands Russia withdraw aid convoy from Ukraine

The United States on Friday demanded Russia "immediately" withdraw an aid convoy of vehicles from Ukraine and warned of further international sanctions if Moscow did not respect Kiev's sovereignty.

Russia sent dozens of aid trucks into rebel-held eastern Ukraine earlier on Friday without Kiev’s approval, saying its patience had worn out with the Ukrainian government’s stalling tactics.

"Russia must remove its vehicles and its personnel from the territory of Ukraine immediately. Failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

The United Nations Security Council was to hold emergency consultations on the convoy Friday at the request of Lithuania.

This story was posted on the france24.com Internet site yesterday sometime---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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By Blocking U.N. Resolution, U.S. Shows That It Seeks Ukrainian Conflict Escalation – Moscow

By blocking the U.N. Security Council statement on the ceasefire in Ukraine, Washington has demonstrated that it wants to see further escalation of the Ukrainian conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

“If the U.S. opposes an absolutely non-confrontational, reconciliatory text, there can be no doubts that Washington intends to have the armed confrontation in Ukraine continued. It could be seen only as an attempt to ‘undermine’ the humanitarian mission,” the ministry said in a statement.

Moscow believes that such policy is hypocritical, the ministry added.

"Cynical disregard for the fate of civilians and 'couldn't care less' attitude toward the international humanitarian law when it comes to geopolitical interests, becomes the core of the policy of the United States and its European satellites regarding Ukrainian," the statement read.

This is another RIA Novosti story from yesterday.  It was posted on their website at 7:06 p.m. Moscow time yesterday evening, which was 11:06 a.m. EDT.  Once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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Russia Reminds U.N. that Ukraine Agreed to Let Russia Deliver Aid on August 12

Russia has sent a humanitarian convoy to the east of Ukraine, considering that it has received official authorization of Kiev government, Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin said.

The corresponding note was received on August 12, Churkin said, noting that the humanitarian aid to Syria was delivered without the consent of the authorities of the country.

"If we are talking about respect for sovereignty, we have received a formal agreement from them [the Ukrainian authorities]. We have discussed this issue with them, and if they decided to cheat, then it's their problem," Churkin told Russian reporters after the closed meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine on Friday.

The note that gave consent for the passage of the humanitarian convoy through the Ukrainian border was received on 12 August, Churkin said.

This news item appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 2:20 a.m. Moscow time on their Saturday morning---and the contributions from Roy just keep on coming.

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Kiev Says Ukraine Needs 5 Billion Cubic Meters of Russian Gas for Winter

Ukraine needs to purchase additional five billion cubic meters of gas from Russia for the forthcoming winter season, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Friday.

“Can Ukraine now survive without Russian gas? No, it can’t. How much Russian gas do we need to buy? About 5 billion cubic meters,” he said in an interview with Ukrainian TV channels.

He said that three-party gas talks, involving Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, are scheduled to take place next month.

“I hope there will be some final stage to these talks,” he said.

But where is the money coming from to pay for the gas that the Ukraine has already used, let alone this new amount?  A question with no answer at the moment.  This article appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 7:24 p.m. Moscow time on their Friday evening---and it's courtesy of Roy Stephens once again.

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Russia's Rosneft grabs Norwegian drilling assets

Russian energy company Rosneft said Friday it signed an agreement to acquire a stake in a Norwegian drilling company in exchange for drilling rigs.

Rosneft signed a framework agreement with North Atlantic Drilling Ltd.

"This deal will allow Rosneft to acquire new capabilities in the sphere of oilfield services, by engaging the best professionals, with unique expertise in operations in harsh climate conditions," Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin said in a statement Friday.

Rosneft was the target of sanctions imposed by Western powers in response to Russia's stance on crises in Ukraine. Sechin himself was sanctioned by the U.S. government.

This UPI news item, filed from Moscow, appeared on their Internet site at 10:07 a.m. yesterday, but the time zone it was filed from wasn't stated, so EDT must be assumed.

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Veteran Russian nationalist demands Obama be stripped of Nobel Peace Prize

Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party will press for depriving President Barack Obama of the Nobel Peace Prize on the grounds that the U.S. leader is disgracing the award by organizing wars instead of fighting for peace.

The statement, posted on the party’s website, quotes its leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky as saying that the fact that the Peace Prize was given to Obama in 2009 caused bewilderment from the very beginning – the award went to the man who had occupied his post for less than a year and had not claimed any real achievements.

Usually the Nobel Peace Prize is handed to people who fought for peace for 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, who did prison time. This man has not moved a finger. And in recent years he has organized wars. Ukraine is in flames, the Mideast is troubled, and there are problems in Afghanistan. Throughout his term in power – not a single peacekeeping operation; we see only death, aggression and refugees. The Peace Prize should be recalled immediately to avoid disgracing of the award!” Zhirinovsky stated.

The Russian politician added that he himself had worked in the Peace Committee and previously the whole world had been proud of Nobel laureates. He noted that giving the Peace Prize to Obama “had done huge damage” but the mistake could still be corrected.

He would be exactly right about that, dear reader. This article put in an appearance on the Russia Today website at 9:01 a.m. Moscow time yesterday---and I thank Roy Stephens once again.

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Interview with Sergei Glaziev---a MUST WATCH/LISTEN!

Thanks to the superb work of the Russian Team, it is my huge pleasure to present you with one of the most interesting interviews about the war in the Ukraine and the global struggle for the future of the planet and the views of one of the best informed men in Russia: Sergei Glaziev.

Glaziev is an advisor to President Putin and a close friend.  I personally believe that the western media is either wrong or deliberately lying when then say that Dugin is Putin's ideological mentor. I am not sure that Putin has - or needs - any kind of mentor, but over the years I have found that Glaziev seems to say out loud what Putin does not, but seems to be acting on.

Glaziev, who was born in the Ukraine and who is an economic himself, has a superb understanding of the behind-the-scenes power plays in the Ukraine and in Russia.  This man really *knows* what is going on.  Furthermore, he is one of the leading "Eurasian Sovereignists" and he is therefore absolutely hated by the pro-U.S. circles in Russia.  He is equally hated in the USA who put him on their recent sanctions list for no other reason then the fact that they don't like what he has to say.

I cut and paste the above three paragraphs of introduction from the vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca website, which is what you will read when you click on this article.  The interview is in Russian, so if you need to read the English subtitles to what he is saying, you have to click on the little 'cc' icon at the bottom of the youtube.com video that's imbedded in this story.  The video interview runs for 15:34 minutes---and is, without question, the most important 'story' in today's column.  It's a must watch from start to finish---and should be of special interest to any serious student of the New Great Game, which has now begun in earnest---and that Sergei talks about at length.

The story, is of course, courtesy of Roy Stephens.  He sent it to me on Wednesday, but because of length and content reasons, it had to wait for my Saturday column.

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Egypt launches Suez Canal II project, reasserts image as building nation

New President al-Sisi announces the US$4-billion, 72-kilometre waterway whose construction will be carried out by the country’s armed forces.

The announcement by Egypt that it will build a new waterway parallel to the Suez Canal is aimed not just to keep pace with growing international trends but also to boost revenue in a country that has been forced to become the world’s largest wheat importer to feed its 84 million people.

And, at the same time it is designed to tell the world that while other Arab states are plunged in chaos and violence, the nation from which the term “pharaonic” was coined to describe mammoth public works, is resolved “to build,” international relations pundits told the Herald.

Revenue from the new project is expected to reach US$13.5 billion by 2023 versus the current US$5 billion from its 145-year-old predecessor.

This very interesting news story appeared on the buenosairesherald.com Internet site way back on August 11.  Reader M.A. sent it to me last Sunday---and for obvious reasons it had to wait for today's column.

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Baku, Tehran sign energy agreements

Azerbaijan said it signed a memorandum of understanding to broaden energy ties in the Iranian oil and natural gas sector.

The State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic said its delegates have spent the last three days in Iran visiting with ministers and representatives from the energy sector.

SOCAR said it reviewed interests expressed by Iran's Khazar Exploration and Production Co. to work on oil and gas issues ranging from production to transportation of reserves between the two Caspian nations.

"The event ended with signing of a memorandum of understanding between Iran's Khazar Exploration & Production Co. and SOCAR," the Azeri company said Thursday.

This story, filed from Tehran, appeared on the upi.com Internet site at 10:33 a.m. EDT[?] on Friday---and I thank Roy Stephens once again for bringing it to our attention.

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Mongolia Seeks Economic Lifeline With Pivot to China, Russia

After two decades courting Western investors and political allies, Mongolia is refocusing on foreign ties closer to home seeking to revive its economy.

China’s President Xi Jinping is scheduled to arrive tomorrow in the country landlocked between his nation and Russia, as Mongolia’s economic woes mount. Growth is the weakest in four years, foreign investment has plummeted, inflation is rising and the currency has plunged to a record low.

Xi’s trip to the mineral-rich nation, the first by a Chinese president in 11 years, comes ahead of the expected visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin about two weeks later. As analysts anticipate deals or negotiations from energy to infrastructure, the visits signal a pivot to Russia and China as a prolonged spat with Rio Tinto Group over Mongolia’s biggest ever investment has cooled foreign interest in the nation.

“The timing is critical,” said Peter Morrow, partner at NovaTerra LLC, which advises on projects including energy, from Ulaanbaatar. “Both China and Russia are keenly interested in Mongolia’s resources, and both know that the country is going through a rough economic patch.”

This very interesting article, co-filed from Tokyo---and Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, appeared on their Internet site at 9:55 p.m. on Tuesday evening Denver time---and is another news item that had to wait for today column.   My thanks go out to reader Harold Wiener for bringing it to our attention---and it's definitely worth reading.

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Tour 20 Cities Through Videos Taken by Drones

If you can't make it to Venice, Istanbul, and Macao this summer, you can experience them via stunning aerial views thanks to drone videographers (and the internet). These forward-thinking photographers travel the world with their remote-controlled flying cameras and capture the world as only a small helicopter with advanced video skills could.

Drones get a bad rap in the press for their more nefarious talents, such as launching military airstrikes in remote places, but they have become more and more common in architecture and urban photography. First-person view, as it is sometimes called, involves cameras mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or radio-controlled aircraft. Perhaps the leader in this art form for architecture is Iwan Baan and his famous aerial shots.

The moment I played the London video clip out of this group posted in this article, I realized that what I was looking at was not only going to revolutionize aerial photography, but all of video photography.  It was stunning.  I hope you have a good time here, as I had fun---and was totally blown away.  You will be too.  It was posted on the architizer.com Internet site on Monday---and is something else that had to wait for today's column.  I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

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Ex-White House Official - Gold, Capital Controls---and Inflation: King World News

Former presidential adviser and Plunge Protection Team member Philippa Malmgren tells King World News that governments have an interest in suppressing the price of gold and silver and in otherwise blocking the exits from currency devaluation as official inflation figures begin to be exposed as lies.

This interview was posted on the King World News website yesterday---and I thank Chris Powell for wordsmithing the above paragraph of introduction.

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New York Sun: Krugman's kryptonite

The journalistic establishment's refusal to engage in an honest and candid discussion of gold's place in the international financial system was ridiculed brilliantly in an editorial in The New York Sun on Friday, which targeted New York Times columnist Paul Krugman particularly.

"Put a piece of specie next to Mr. Krugman and he shrivels up and like Superman on a slab from Krypton," the Sun writes, "It wouldn't surprise us were Mr. Krugman to keep his Nobel 'gold medal' in a lead-lined case, lest he get woozy when he walks past it. He calls for analysis? Analyze this: During Bretton Woods, under which the dollar was fixed at a 35th of an ounce of gold, unemployment averaged 4.7 percent. Since then it has averaged above 6 percent. Is that related to the fiat nature of money?"

This editorial was posted on The New York Sun's website---and I found it on the gata.org Internet site.  Once again I thank Chris Powell for writing the above paragraph of introduction.

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New Orleans investment conference will debate gold market manipulation

As always unafraid of controversy, the New Orleans Investment Conference in October will feature a debate on whether central banks manipulate the gold market, with GATA's secretary/treasurer Chris Powell arguing in the affirmative---and Casey Research founder Doug Casey arguing in the negative.

The debate will be moderated by money manager, financial commentator, and fellow conference speaker Adrian Day.

The rest of this GATA release from yesterday falls into the must read category.

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Rick Rule sounds suspicious about gold market manipulation

Sprott Asset Management's Rick Rule told financial letter writer Jay Taylor this week that he doesn't want to believe in conspiracies to manipulate the gold market but is "very impressed by the amount of data" GATA has collected.

Rule said the heavy selling of gold and silver at illiquid times in the market suggests attempts to drive prices down. If the LIBOR interest rate could be manipulated, Rule added, it would be much easier to manipulate the gold and silver markets, which are much smaller.

The interview with Rule is, at this moment, the third item on the audio page of Taylor's Internet site, jaytaylormedia.com---and Rick's comments on gold market manipulation begin at the 16:20 mark.  This is definitely worth your time as well, dear reader.  The pattern for Rick's tin-foil hat is at the millinery on Savile Row at this very moment.

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India's anti-gold rules to stay in place - Finance Secretary

In a major blow to the Indian bullion industry, the Finance Ministry has ruled out easing its curbs on gold imports any time soon. India's retail sector has been seeking the softening of import duty for some time now.

Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram told a media gathering on Thursday, during an industry and government meeting organised by industry chamber Assocham, that the government would consider easing the norms at some time in the future, when it was more comfortable with the current account deficit (CAD) situation and could start earning more from other exports.

Though CAD had fallen significantly in 2013-14, India's apex bank RBI has noted that potential risks could emanate from both domestic and global factors.

He made it clear that India could not afford 1,000 tonnes of gold import at a bill of $55 billion any more.

This gold-related news item, filed from Mumbai,  showed up on the mineweb.com Internet site yesterday--and it's definitely worth reading.

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China gold exchange gains traction as yuan reforms stir interest

China's planned global gold exchange has signed up more members than targeted, as foreign banks and trading houses seek direct access to the world's top physical gold consumer and to test out reforms allowing them to trade commodities in the yuan currency.

The strong response from foreign players will boost efforts by China -- also the world's biggest producer of gold -- to gain pricing power over the metal and to challenge the dominance of London and New York in trading.

This Reuters article, filed from Singapore, showed up on their website at 3:20 p.m. IST on their Friday afternoon---and it's anther gold-related news item I found on the gata.org Internet site.

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This surprising metal, palladium, is crushing gold

While everyone is staring at gold, one surprising precious metal is trouncing it: palladium.

The metal is up 22 percent this year, and earlier this week, it made 13-year highs as it broke above $900 per troy ounce. Gold, meanwhile, is only up 5 percent in 2014.

And according to David Seaburg, head of equity sales trading at Cowen &  Co., the palladium run isn’t over just yet.

“Depletion of the Russian inventory has been a big issue,” said Seaburg. That country is the world’s largest palladium producer.

And Russia could make it an even bigger issue if the choose to do so---and they just might, as I said before, if push really becomes shove.  This article appeared on the finance.yahoo.com Internet site at 5:23 p.m. EDT on Thursday afternoon---and I thank Elliot Simon for digging it up on our behalf.

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Netherlands refuses to return Crimean Scythian gold to Russia or Ukraine

The Allard Pierson Museum of Amsterdam has reported that it has decided not to return the exhibits which were on display at the exhibition "Crimea: a golden island in the Black Sea" either to Ukraine or to Russia for the time being.

In a statement, the museum said that it planned to wait for a legal investigation into the problem to be completed before taking further steps. “This matter [of to whom the treasure should be returned, to Kiev or to Crimea] is both unique and complex. The Allard Pierson Museum felt it was important to investigate the matter thoroughly and find a solution.” “The Allard Pierson Museum will abide by a ruling by a qualified judge or arbitrator, or further agreement between parties,” the museum adds.

The exhibition opened at the Allard Pierson Museum of the archeological museum at Amsterdam University in early February. It featured collections from five museums - one in Kiev and four in Crimea - and displayed over 500 archeological finds that included artifacts of Scythian gold, a ceremonial helmet, precious stones, swords, armor, and ancient Greek and Scythians household items

This amazing ITAR-TASS article, posted on the Russia Beyond the Headlines website on Friday Moscow time---and I thank Roy Stephens for his final offering in today's column.  It's definitely worth reading.

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Aug 22, 2014

The Schizophrenic U.S. Housing Market in One Chart

For those who are looking for just one chart with which to summarize the U.S. housing market, here it is courtesy of the NAR, which earlier today reported July existing home sales, which despite beating expectations, were still 4.3% below the 5.38 million annualized homes sold a year ago.

The chart shows that while the housing market for the low-end continues to collapse (the 12.9% drop was "only" -12% three months ago), and the mid-range is virtually frozen, all the upside activity, activity which pushes the median price ever higher ( in July it was $222,900, 4.9% percent above July 2013 and the 29th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains), was in the ultra-luxury segment, or houses which cost over $1 million as the "1%", both foreign and domestic, continues to convert their pieces of fiat paper into hard real-estate assets.

That's all there is to this brief article that appeared on the Zero Hedge website yesterday---and the chart is definitely worth the trip.  I thank reader M.A. for today's first story.

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Philly Fed Surges to Highest Since March 2011 Despite Plunge in Jobs and New Orders

Philly Fed has beaten expectations for 6 months in a row with its biggest surge since the 2009 lows. Against expectations of 19.3, Philly Fed printed 28.0 - highest since March 2011 all-time highs. All sounds awesome right? Ummm, no, as 7 of 9 internal declined including - New Orders tanked, Employment tumbled, Prices Paid plunged, and Prices Received slumped.

So, in case you were wondering how it is possible that Philly Fed surged given such shitty internals, the 6-month forecast index ("hope") just surged to 22-year highs. And not only that: put all hopes of that long-delayed CapEx renaissance on hold: "While most broad indicators of future growth have been improving, the survey’s future capital spending index has been slipping. Although the index decreased just 1 point this month, its reading, at 17.5, is now the lowest it has been in seven months."

Look forward to Yellen talking soon about lack of capital spending as a pretext to keep ZIRP on for much, much longer.

The three charts embedded in this second Zero Hedge story are also worth a quick look---and today's second story is also courtesy of reader M.A.

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New York Sun: The mystery of Jackson Hole

In commentary headlined "Mystery of Jackson Hole," The New York Sun today reflects on the wreckage of the United States economy as the annual economic conference of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City convenes at the famous Wyoming resort. The Sun writes:

"Savers have been devastated. The market isn't what it seems. No one wants to lend and no one wants to borrow. Unemployment is still above where it was when Congress gave the Fed a mandate to bring it down. A new Fed chairman has made jobs her signature. But will anyone at Jackson Hole ask whether it is the fiat nature of our money that got us into this hole in the first place?"

This short editorial appeared on The New York Sun website yesterday--and it's definitely worth reading.  I found it over at the gata.org Internet site.

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Nobel guru fears it may be nigh impossible to stop deflation

A quick word from Lindau, where half the world's Nobel economists are gathered on a beautiful island with cobbled streets on Lake Constance, looking out across the Alps. It is a Wittlesbach jewel.

Christopher Sims – a monetary expert, who now thinks money indicators have been rendered "essentially obsolete" by modern finance – says it may be impossible to reverse deflation in the Western economies by any normal means, in which case we are in trouble.

He argues that the public (including investors) are convinced that there will have to be some sort of payback for all the debts accumulated during the great era of leverage and excess. They have "internalised" the prospect of future tax rises and spending that will make them feel poorer.

"Some 60pc of people in the U.S. say they doubt there will be any government benefits for them when they retire, and 60pc of those already retired think their benefits will be reduced," he said.

This Ambrose Evans-Pritchard blog showed up on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site yesterday sometime---and it's the first offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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High-frequency trading critic Chilton joins HFT lobby effort

Former CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton, who famously blasted high-frequency traders as "cheetahs" when he was a regulator, has gone to work with a leading high-frequency trading association, the group said Thursday.

The switch is a dramatic example of a regulator becoming a paid consultant for an industry he once criticized—and it says as much about how the high-frequency trading industry is changing its approach as it does about Washington's often-criticized revolving door.

Chilton, who left the CFTC earlier this year, joined the law and lobbying firm of DLA Piper as a senior policy advisor in April. On Thursday, the Modern Markets Initiative announced that Chilton and DLA Piper will work with the association's newly appointed CEO Bill Harts on "regulatory and public policy matters."

Both Ted Butler and I thought he was a good guy until we realized that although he talked the talk, there was no way he was ever going to walk the walk.  Now he's just another paid whore for Wall Street.  This 2:39 minute video clip, plus transcript, was posted on the CNBC website very early Thursday morning EDT---and I thank Dr. Dave Janda for passing it around yesterday.

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Chuck Hagel Goes Full Fearmonger: "ISIS Poses Greater Threat Than 9/11, Prepare For Everything"

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talks about the "imminent threat" ISIS poses to the US and the World.. .and pulls no punches in his total fearmongering..."ISIL poses a threat greater than 9/11. ISIL is as sophisticated and well funded as any group we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology with a sophisticated strategic and tactical military prowess and they're tremendously well-funded. This is way beyond anything we have seen. We must prepare for everything. Get Ready!"

Time for some QE-funded deficit-busting war spending...

Or maybe it's just a warning for the next big false-flag operation, such as a 9/11 redux---except maybe in several countries at once, dear reader.  We'll find out soon enough I would think.  This is another Zero Hedge posting---and it appeared on their website at 4:47 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon.  I thank reader 'David in California' for sending it.  Then there's this related ZH piece headlined "Rick Perry "ISIS Could Be in U.S., Need to Be Eliminated Now"" that David sent as well.

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‘Only’ American fighter within Kiev forces dies in battle in East Ukraine

The only American known to have joined a volunteer unit within the Ukrainian military, fighting the anti-government forces in the country’s east, has been killed in action, authorities confirm.

The killed fighter is Mark Paslawsky, a New York-born 55-year-old investment banker and US army veteran who took Ukrainian citizenship just before joining the Donbas battalion - a volunteer unit fighting alongside Kiev troops - in April. He adopted codename ‘Franko’ there.

News of his death came in an August 20 Facebook post by Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko, who said four fighters of the Donbas battalion died in a battle near the town of Ilovaysk, 35km from Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

Among those dead is a Ukrainian citizen of American origin, codename ‘Franko’,” Gerashchenko wrote.

This news item, filed from Moscow, showed up on the Russia Today Internet site at 10:48 a.m. Moscow time on Thursday morning, which was 2:48 a.m. in New York.  I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Red Cross Warns Against Indiscriminate Attacks in Ukraine's Populated Areas

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday called on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine to avoid selecting military targets in populated areas and carrying out indiscriminate attacks, the ICRC statement said.

"Equally, each party to the conflict must, to the extent feasible, avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited, as is the use of weapons which by their nature are indiscriminate, i.e. which cannot distinguish between civilians and objects on the one hand and military objectives on the other,” the statement read.

This story, filed from Moscow, was posted on the RIA Novosti website at 8:59 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Ukraine border guards begin checks on Russian aid trucks

Ukrainian border guards began on Thursday to inspect a Russian truck convoy carrying aid earmarked for humanitarian relief in eastern Ukraine that has been stranded at the frontier between the two former Soviet republics for nearly a week.

Kiev believes the convoy of some 260 trucks, carrying water, food and medicines, could prove a Trojan horse for Russia to get weapons to pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian forces in the region - a notion that Moscow has dismissed as absurd.

"I can confirm that at 2:15 p.m. (1115 GMT/7.15 a.m. EDT) the Ukrainian side began border-customs formalities relating to the Russian humanitarian cargo," border guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko told Reuters.

Asked on whose territory the cargo was, he replied: "On the territory of the Russian border point."

This Reuters story is datelined 4:42 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---so it's obviously been edited, as Roy Stephens sent it to me at 12:55 a.m. EDT.

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Moscow Urges to Prevent Disruptions of Aid Delivery, Warns of Provocations

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday called on all parties concerned to prevent any disruptions in the delivery of Russian humanitarian cargo to eastern Ukraine.

“The most important task for now is to ensure that the convoy reaches its destination point without any disruptions,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Russian side reiterates its firm security guarantees. Similar guarantees have also been provided by the Ukrainian authorities and the militia.”

The ministry also warned of “possible provocations aimed at disrupting the delivery of aid.”

Ukraine’s National Security Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said earlier today that Kiev had no information on when the Russian humanitarian aid convoy can enter the country.

This article appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 8:39 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Meeting Between Russian, Ukrainian Presidents Step Toward De-Escalation – Lawmaker

A meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents slated for August 26 in the Belarusian capital of Minsk is a step forward in de-escalating the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s lower house speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Thursday.

“The Minsk meeting is one of the stages to de-escalating this conflict," State Duma Speaker Naryshkin said.

Naryshkin stressed that the de-escalation of the Ukrainian conflict requires establishing a dialogue involving “all the political powers and all the regions of the country.”

On Tuesday, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration Valeriy Chaliy said the coming two weeks would be decisive for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine, and that Kiev wants to resolve the conflict through diplomacy.

This is another article from the RIA Novosti website.  This one showed up at 1:18 p.m. Moscow time yesterday---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it along.

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No Brie for Moscow as Cheese Stacks Up in France on Ban

At Alexander Krupetskov’s one-window cheese store in central Moscow, sales of products from France have tripled in the past two weeks.

Shoppers are stocking up on foods set to become scarce after Russia banned a range of products from the European Union and the U.S. in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine. The nation of 143 million has been one of the fastest-growing export markets for French cheesemakers as Moscovites acquire a taste for creamy brie, pungent Camembert and spicy Roquefort.

“The very foundation of the shop has been cast into major doubt,” said Krupetskov, who has four weeks of inventory left.

This Bloomberg article, co-filed from Paris and Moscow, appeared on their website at 4:52 a.m. Denver time yesterday morning---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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‘Zero effect’, if E.U. asks to stop trade with Russia – Brazil

Brazil has not received a request from the E.U. to halt increasing exports to Russia, but if it does, Brasilia wouldn’t care, Ambassador Antonio Jose Vallim Guerreiro told a news conference in Moscow Thursday.

"No E.U. official has approached the leadership of Brazil with such an initiative of the sort yet," as ITAR-TASS quotes the ambassador.

Guerreiro is certain that even if there were a request from the E.U., its effects would be "equal to zero."

He said he was aware of reports saying the E.U. leadership might ask Brazil to refrain from taking its share of the Russian market. Brazil’s leaders have no leverage to influence businesses or put pressures on them, he added.

This Russia Today story was posted on their website at 11:52 a.m. Thursday morning Moscow time---and it's the second-last contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.  RIA Novosti had their story on this issue as well.  It's headlined "Brazil Hopes to Increase Trade With Russia – Ambassador"---and this represents the final offering of the day from Roy.

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Russian Rocket Engines Delivered to U.S. Despite Escalating Tensions

Two Russian-built rocket engines have arrived in the U.S. aboard a giant Antonov cargo plane despite fears that tensions between the U.S. and Russia could disrupt the supply of engines needed to launch U.S. satellites into space.

"Today, United Launch Alliance received two RD-180 engines at our factory in Decatur, Alabama, that will support critical near-term U.S. missions," Jessica Rye, spokeswoman for the joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp, said Wednesday. ULA uses the Russian engines to help launch a range of NASA and other government satellites into space.

Rye said the deliveries occurred as scheduled, bringing the company's current inventory of RD-180 engines to 15. Three additional rockets are due to arrive this fall, she said.

For now, Washington remains dependent on the Russian engines since it could take years and billions of dollars to design and build a U.S.-built alternate engine, according to U.S. government officials and industry executives.

Can you spell hypocrisy?  So much for the all that talk from the U.S. government.  This Reuters article was picked up by themoscowtimes.com Internet site at 8:55 a.m. Moscow time on their Thursday morning.

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Council on Foreign Relations: The Ukraine Crisis is the West’s – Not Putin’s – Fault

We’ve previously reported that it’s the West’s encirclement of Russia – breaking a key promise which led to the break-up of the Soviet Union – which is behind the Ukraine crisis.

We’ve also noted that the U.S. State Department spent more than $5 billion dollars in pushing Ukraine towards the West.  The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine (Geoffrey Pyatt) and assistant Secretary of State (Victoria Nuland) were also recorded plotting the downfall of the former Ukraine government in a leaked recorder conversation.  Top-level U.S. officials literally handed out cookies to the protesters who overthrew the Ukrainian government.

And the U.S. has been doing everything it can to trumpet pro-Ukrainian and anti-Russian propaganda. So – without doubt – the U.S. government is heavily involved with fighting a propaganda war regarding Ukraine.

Now the news is starting to go mainstream---specifically, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is a very mainstream, hawkish group.  CFR’s flagship publication – Foreign Affairs – has just published a piece blaming the Ukraine crisis on the West.  The piece by John Mearsheimer – in it’s September/October 2014 issue.

This commentary appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 12:56 p.m. EDT yesterday---and it's a must read---especially for all serious students of the New Great Game.  I thank reader M.A. for bringing this article to our attention.

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Robert Fisk: Middle East crisis---We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

For centuries, governments told their soldiers and their people to “Know Your Enemy”. The problem with the Isis “Caliphate” – and it is a big problem for President Obama after journalist James Foley’s murder – is that we don’t know who it is. We are told of its butchery, cruelty, its kidnapping of women, its burying alive, its viciousness towards Christians and Yazidis and its public beheadings, but that is all. Even the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, comes across as a mad combination of the Mahdi who murdered Gordon of Khartoum, the assassinated Osama bin Laden and Oliver Cromwell, who did to the civilians of Drogheda what the Muslim Lord Protector al-Baghdadi has done to his enemies.

Foley’s ritual slaughter is enough to dissuade even the most foolhardy of journalists from seeking an interview with al-Baghdadi. Never before in the Middle East has so much land been out of bounds to the Western media. So ignorant are we of this Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – a dark land in which the reports we see of it are their own phone videos – that the Obamas, Camerons and Hammonds can only gnash their teeth at this unspeakable enemy. Easy reaction – but not much to go on. Yet Isis knows how to do one thing: confront Obama with his very own hostage problem, the same conundrum Tony Blair faced when Ken Bigley appeared before the video lens. Do you ignore the warnings, thus proving that you don’t care about your individual citizens when undertaking military operations – which is the truth – or do you turn into Jimmy Carter, curtsy to every whim of your enemies, go down on one knee and tell the Pentagon to “Hold it right there”?

Now Obama has seen the next American reporter threatened with beheading. Will he blink? He can’t, can he?

This opinion piece showed up on the independent.co.uk Internet site on Wednesday---and it's a disturbing read.  I thank South African reader B.V. for this contribution to today's column.

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Three King World News Blogs

1. Egon von Greyerz [#1]: "Swiss Gold Repatriation to Send Shock Waves in Gold Market"  2. Gerald Celente: "E-mail Exposes Scary Economic Collapse in the U.S."  2. Egon von Greyerz [#2]: "We Are Just Beginning to Experience a Global Hyperinflation"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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Infographic: The world's largest diggers

There's some really gigantic mining equipment out there---and there are four of them presented in this article that showed up on the mining.com Internet site yesterday---and I thank reader M.A. for his final contribution to today's column.

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Transnistria to Introduce Plastic Circulation Coins

The Transnistrian Republican Bank have announced that they will issue new currency units that will be made of composite materials. The currency items are primarily being issued to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the national currency. The composite material or Plastic coins will have a different geometric shape and color depending on denomination.

The four coins, from one ruble to ten rubles are to replace the banknotes of the same denomination. The Press office of the Bank have indicated that the new money will combine the best qualities of both coins and banknotes with high wear resistance and a wide range of security features. The Press office have also indicated that the coins for use in Transnistria were developed in Russia.

I thought plastic 'paper money' was scraping the bottom of the barrel, but now this!  This article appeared on the coinupdate.com website yesterday---and it's an interesting, but depressing, read.  I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for finding it for us.

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U.S. Mint platinum coins bypassed in rush for gold

Five months after the U.S. Mint began producing coins made with platinum, sales have all but collapsed as investors continue to favor gold and silver.

“It’s not considered a currency,” said Jason Carstensen, a medical-sales representative in Ventura, California, who spends about $2,000 a month on coins. Gold and silver have value as hedges against a devaluation of the dollar, while platinum is viewed as an industrial commodity, he said.

The Mint, which resumed production of platinum coins in March after a six-year halt, has sold 13,600 ounces this year, including zero in July. By comparison, the Mint sold 313,500 ounces of gold coins and 27.71 million ounces of silver, fueled by concern that the Federal Reserve is inflating the economy with paper money to stimulate growth.

Yep, the new 2014 platinum eagle has been a bust.  At this mintage rate, they may cancel the program entirely before the years is out---and then it might be a collector's item some day.  This Bloomberg article found a home over at the mineweb.com Internet site on Thursday sometime---and it's the second offering in a row from Elliot Simon.

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What if China, Russia Succeed in Going off the Dollar? -- Alasdair Macleod

Alasdair Macleod writes the blog financeandeconomics.org. His research aims to explain the relationship between the dollar and gold, and to warn investors about the biggest threats to their wealth from macro-economic events. 

Besides what the Fed is doing by printing money, there is another big threat to the dollar, said Alasdair. Countries in Asia are banding together in order to rid themselves of using the dollar in international trade.

He also warned that credible allegation of misconduct at the London bullion exchange could accelerate the trend of Shanghai becoming the world’s trading hub for gold.

This short, but very interesting read/interview was posted under the Sprott's Thoughts banner over on the sprottglobal.com Internet site yesterday---and it's worth your while.

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Aug 21, 2014

Mob boss calls a stock bubble

Former mob boss Michael Franzese thinks investors should avoid the U.S. stock market, but should you take his investment advice?

"There's a bubble there that's going to burst at some point and when it does it's not going to be good," Franzese, a former mob boss for the Colombo crime family in New York who has become an author and motivational speaker, told CNBC.

It's not just the valuations. He's got another reason for advising investors to keep their money off Wall Street.

"I did a lot of things at times with people on Wall Street," said Franzese, who believes there is still a contract out on his life. "A lot of guys are shady and they did shady things with me and I don't trust them. And I don't like other people that I don't know really well taking care of my money. I think that I can do it better."

What's the difference between Wall Street and this guy?  At least he's a reformed crook, something that won't happen to Wall Street.  I'll take his word on things any day compared to the usual shills that they have on that network.  This very interesting 7:15 minute video clip [plus transcript] appeared on the CNBC website just after midnight on Wednesday morning---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for today's first 'story'.

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Jim Rickards: "I'm expecting the next crisis sooner rather than later"

Listening to James Rickards ain’t healthy for your stomach.

The American lawyer, economist, and investment banker predicts that the global economy is heading for a disaster which will be even worse than the financial crisis of 2008. At the center of this horrifying scenario is the end of the Dollar as the leading world reserve currency, says the author of "The Death of Money".

He’s putting the blame on the massive money printing of the Federal Reserve and on over-reliance on flawed models to manage risk. Rickards is no stranger to financial crises himself: In the fall of 1998, he was the principal negotiator of the rescue of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM).

An interview is only as good as the questions asked---and the person asking them.  This is a great one, as are Jim's answers.  It was posted on the Swiss website fuw.ch on Tuesday afternoon---and I thank reader Harold Jacobsen for digging it up for us.

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BofA reaches $17 billion settlement with U.S.

Bank of America has reached a record settlement of nearly $17 billion to resolve an investigation into its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, officials directly familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

One of the officials, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement isn't scheduled until Thursday at the earliest, said the bank will pay $9.65 billion in cash and provide consumer relief valued at $7 billion.

The deal is the largest settlement arising from the economic meltdown in which millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. It follows agreements in the last year with Citigroup for $7 billion and with JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $13 billion.

This AP story was picked up by the finance.yahoo.com Internet site early Wednesday evening EDT---and it's another contribution from Elliot Simon.  There's another AP story on this subject.  It's headlined "Why Bank of America deal might not cost it $17B"---and it's courtesy of Elliot Simon as well.

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Financial Times: Wall Street Plays Dangerous Derivatives Games — Again

The same kinds of complex, confusing derivatives that almost brought down the global financial system in 2008 are back in spades, according to the Financial Times. As one trader put it: "We've reformed nothing."

The U.K. newspaper suggested investors may be fooled by a false sense of security, and are therefore “chasing levered returns via certain types of US credit derivatives that Wall Street is willingly providing in the current climate of low interest rates and moribund volatility.”

The developments suggest that the financial industry learned little from the 2008 meltdown and that reforms put in place since then are ineffective.

“While standardized derivatives such as interest rate swaps are now transacted in exchange-type venues and centrally cleared, the flourishing area of opaque products are not, and moreover there are few records of activity that regulators can monitor,” the Times said.

This Financial Times article appeared on the moneynews.com Internet site at 7:51 p.m. EDT on Tuesday evening---and it's worth reading.  I thank Brad Robertson for sharing it with us.  There was also a very interesting 6:29 minute video about this derivatives story [featuring Janet Tavakoli] posted on the cbc.ca Internet site on Tuesday as well---and if you read the above story, this video is worth watching as well.  I thank Vancouver, B.C. reader 'Ashley D' for bringing it to our attention.  The link is here.

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Credit Swaps Polished in $19 Trillion Derivative Overhaul

The biggest overhaul to the $19 trillion credit derivatives market in more than a decade will seek to solve flaws that have stopped some contracts paying out as buyers anticipated.

The changes come too late for investors in the junior debt of Banco Espirito Santo SA, whose credit-default swaps were devalued this month when the Portuguese lender was rescued and restructured by the government. Since the contracts are tied to the majority of a company’s debt, if the borrower is reorganized the swaps don’t necessarily stay tied to the securities they’re meant to protect.

Investors will start signing up to convert outstanding trades into new contracts as early as this week after the International Swaps & Derivatives Association rewrote the documentation to address the weaknesses. The biggest impact of the shakeup may be in the cost of swaps tied to subordinated bank bonds like those of Banco Espirito Santo, which will be about 50 percent more than existing contracts, according to Citigroup Inc.

This article, filed from London, showed up on the businessweek.com Internet site on Tuesday sometime---and it's another offering from Elliot Simon.

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Fed debates merits of earlier rate hike given U.S. jobs gains

The U.S. Federal Reserve hinted on Wednesday that a surprisingly strong jobs market recovery could lead it to raise interest rates earlier than it had been anticipating.

At the same time, most Fed officials wanted further evidence before changing their view on when rates should rise, according to the minutes from the central bank's July 29-30 meeting.

"Labor market conditions had moved noticeably closer to those viewed as normal in the longer run," the minutes said, adding that policymakers "generally agreed" the job market was healing faster than they had expected.

Since there's nothing the Fed can do, as its hands are tied, it has resorted to talking the markets into doing what it wants.  We'll see how well that works out going forward, as a rate increase at this point would devastate the bond market.  This Reuters article, filed from Washington, appeared on their website at 4:26 p.m. EDT on Wednesday---and I thank Orlando, Florida reader Dennis Mong for sending it our way.

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Argentina bonds, peso reel on country's debt swap plan

Argentina's new plan to skirt U.S. courts and resume payment on defaulted bonds aims to protect creditors who participated in two debt restructurings, the economy minister said on Wednesday as the local peso currency weakened to a new historic low.

Defying a U.S. federal court order, Axel Kicillof also said it would be "madness" to pay holdout creditors the 100 cents on the dollar that they were awarded in 2012.

The government has sent a bill to Congress that would replace its New York intermediary bank with state-run Banco Nacion, the latest move in a years-old legal chess game between Argentina and its "holdout" creditors who refused to participate in the restructuring.

Argentina's black market peso reeled on the news, falling 2.0 percent to an all-time low 13.5 to the U.S. dollar. The country's benchmark dollar-denominated bonds due in 2033 slumped more than 2.0 percent in price.

This Reuters story, filed from Buenos Aires, appeared on their website at 2:56 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank Dennis Mong for his second contribution in a row.  I had several other readers send me stories about this yesterday, but this is the first one where the deal was explained in such a way that I could grasp it.  Helping things out is this 3:22 minute CNBC video clip from Tuesday.  Jim Rickards explains it all---and the link to that is here.  This CNBC video is also courtesy of reader Harold Jacobsen.

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World Business Leaders Call for Speedy Ukrainian Crisis Resolution

The conflict in Ukraine should come to an end, and 16 Russian, Ukrainian and international business leaders are willing to help, said a statement published Wednesday on Virgin Group founder Richard Branson’s website.

“As concerned business leaders from Russia, Ukraine and the West we encourage our governments to compromise and find a peaceful solution to the current conflict. If we can help in the process we’re happy to do so,” the statement said.

“As the world has become more and more interconnected, we have an opportunity to advance peaceful solutions that will bring about a better future for all. As responsible leaders, we must ensure that differences are resolved peacefully, through dialogue and diplomacy, and with respect for both national sovereignty and the right of all human beings to live in peace,” the statement read.

The businessmen urged the governments to cooperate to avoid slipping back into the Cold War era past. The statement also appealed to other business leaders around the world to help create ways to resolve the issues peacefully.

Voices of reason at last.  This RIA Novosti article appeared on their Internet site at 7 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday evening, which was 11 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it's the first offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Ukraine Crisis Continues: Paul Craig Roberts

Having served Washington's propaganda purposes, the downed Malaysian airliner and the alleged Russian armored column that entered Ukraine and was allegedly destroyed have dropped out of the news even though both stories remain completely and totally unresolved.

Washington's stooge government in Ukraine has not released the communications records between Ukrainian air traffic control and Malaysian flight 17, and Washington has not released the photos it claims were taken by one of its satellites, which was directly overhead at the time of the airliner's demise.

We can safely and conclusively infer from this purposeful withholding of evidence that the evidence does not support the story Washington and Kiev want us to believe.

We can also safely and conclusively infer that the Western media's sudden disinterest in the unresolved story and failure to demand the evidence kept secret by Washington and Kiev is in keeping with the Western media's role as a Ministry of Propaganda.

This absolute must read commentary from Paul was picked up by the RIA Novosti website late Wednesday morning Moscow time---and it's courtesy of reader M.A.

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Slovakia plants seed in Ukrainian gas sector

Slovakia and Ukraine have laid the preliminary groundwork for a long future in the natural gas sector, the Slovakian minister of economy said from Kiev.

The Ukrainian government this week said testing began to send 70 million cubic feet per day from Slovakia to Ukraine through the joint work of transit companies Uktransgaz and Eustream.

Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan hosted Slovakian Minister of Economy Pavol Pavlis in Kiev to discuss the prospects of a new relationship in the natural gas sector.

"Small reverse flow will become a basis for further collaboration between Slovakia and Ukraine," Pavlis said in a statement.

The question that begs to be asked is "Where is the Ukraine going to get the money to pay for this gas when it does finally arrive?"  This UPI story, filed from Kiev, was posted on their website at 8:49 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it's the second offering in a row from Roy Stephens.

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First 16 Russian Aid Trucks Move to Ukrainian Border Crossing for Customs Clearance

The first 16 trucks with Russian humanitarian aid to the population of violence-torn eastern Ukraine have started movement toward customs office at the Donetsk border crossing point, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported Wednesday.

"The trucks will pass through a special customs scanner at the crossing, which is 100 meters away from their current location," the correspondent reported from the site.

The rest of the 280-truck convoy remains near the Russian town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky some 20 miles away.

This RIA Novosti article, filed from Donetsk, showed up on their website at at 8:48 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday evening---and it's another contribution to today's column from Roy Stephens.

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Russia Adds Live Fish to List of Embargoed Goods

The Russian government published an amended list of embargoed goods Wednesday, which now includes live fish.

The decree also removes lactose-free dairy products from the list of goods banned for import from countries that sanctioned Russia.

Norway is Russia's largest provider of fish, according to the Federal Customs Service. Russia imports up to 60 percent of the fish consumed in the country, especially in large cities.

This is another story from the RIA Novosti website.  It was posted there at 5:14 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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China, India to Replace Canada, Australia, U.S. as Meat Suppliers to Russia

Chinese and Indian meat is to replace banned pork and beef exports from the West, which will not succeed in reclaiming its position on the Russian market if the embargo is lifted, Russia’s relevant authority said Wednesday.

“For example, Russia’s Far East used to be heavily reliant on meat supplies from the United States and Canada. Now that [we are] actively cooperating with China’s veterinary authorities on … pork supplies from certain highly-integrated Chinese enterprises, the U.S. and Canadian suppliers will not be able to come back,” Sergei Dankvert, the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, said in a statement released on the agency’s website.

According to data from Russia’s Federal Customs Service, Moscow imported 619,200 tons of pork for $2.13 billion in 2013. Brazil, Denmark, Germany and Canada were the principal suppliers of the meat. Canada exported 79,300 tons of pork to Russia in 2013 for $246.3 million, while U.S. pork exports had reached $19 million per year.

This is another article from the RIA Novosti website.  It appeared at 7:43 p.m. Moscow time on Wednesday---and my thanks go out to Roy Stephens once again.

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Poland demands WTO challenge over Russia food ban

Poland has made a formal request that the EU take Russia before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to overturn its ban on EU food and vegetables.

Reuters reported on Tuesday (19 August) that Poland’s economy ministry had sent a written request for a legal challenge to EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht.

The move is expected to be confirmed by agriculture minister Marek Sawicki and economy minister Janusz Piechociński at a press conference on Wednesday (20 August).

This article appeared on the euobserver.com Internet site at 7:45 a.m. Europe time on Wednesday morning---and it's courtesy of Roy Stephens as well.

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Four Moscow McDonalds shut by Russian consumer watchdog

Russia’s consumer watchdog has shut down four McDonald's restaurants in central Moscow – including the first-ever outlet in the country – over “administrative violations.” More of the company 430 Russian franchises are under investigation.

“Multiple violations of sanitary norms were detected in the sourcing of food and waste disposal in McDonald’s restaurants during inspections carried out between the 18th and 20th of August,” said an official statement from the watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor.

The company has said that it will study the allegations against its franchises, and “will do everything to ensure that the restaurants open as soon as possible.”

“McDonald’s main priority is offering its customers quality and safe produce,” said a statement on the McDonald’s website.

One wouldn't think that there's much wrong with these restaurants, but like everything in Russia involving the West these days, they're caught in the crossfire.  This Russia Today story was posted on their Internet site at 3:26 p.m. Moscow time yesterday afternoon---and it's the second-last offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Construction on Russian gas line to China slated for September

Construction on a natural gas pipeline meant to feed the Chinese market is set for the beginning of September, a Russia official said Tuesday.

A pipeline contract between Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp. is for 30 years and calls for 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year. Russian energy company Gazprom said it started working on the infrastructure necessary for the pipeline almost immediately after signing a contract for gas to China in May.

A Russian source told state news agency RIA Novosti construction on the pipeline should begin next month.

"Sept. 1 is a tentative date, and it will all depend on the schedules of the country's leaders," the source said Tuesday.

This UPI story, filed from Moscow was posted on their Internet site at 9:31 a.m. EDT on Tuesday---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Iraqi army clashes with militants in Tikrit after retaking key dam

Skirmishes broke out Tuesday between Iraqi security forces and militants on the outskirts of Tikrit a day after the Iraqi and Kurdish troops - backed by U.S. airstrikes - dislodged Islamic militants from a strategic dam in the country’s north.

The United Nations refugee agency, meanwhile, said it is launching one of its largest aid pushes aimed at helping close to a half million people who have been forced to flee their homes by the violence in Iraq.

The clashes in Tikrit, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad, began on the militant-held city’s southwestern outskirts when a military convoy was travelling along the main highway that links Baghdad with the northern provinces, they said. The Iraqi military shelled militant positions inside and outside the city.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. The local official and resident both spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety.

This news item was posted on the france24.com Internet site yesterday sometime---and I found it all by myself.

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China troops enter disputed India territory: sources

Chinese troops have advanced in recent days into disputed territory claimed by India, echoing a similar incursion last year that raised tensions between the two rival giants, official sources said on Tuesday (Aug 19).

Chinese troops twice crossed over the border into a remote area of the western Himalayas, with some unfurling a banner that read "this is Chinese territory, go back", an official said on condition of anonymity.

Indian border police noticed the troops on Sunday in an unpopulated area of Ladakh during a patrol of the informal border that separates India and China. "It was a temporary peaceful face-off with PLA well inside Indian territory," the official told AFP referring to China's People's Liberation Army.

This news item showed up on the channelnewsasia.com Internet site at 5:37 p.m. local time in Singapore---and I thank Brad Robertson for his second contribution of the day.

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China Levies Record Antitrust Fine on Japanese Firms

China found a dozen Japanese auto-parts makers guilty of price fixing and doled out the biggest antitrust fines in the country since relevant rules came into effect six years ago.

Total fines amounted to 1.24 billion yuan ($200 million), the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s main economic planner, said on its website. Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. drew the heaviest fine at 290.4 million yuan -- the biggest-ever antitrust penalty for a single company -- followed by Yazaki Corp.

While China follows the U.S., Europe and Japan in punishing parts makers, the fines come as foreign businesses increasingly voice concerns that an era of heightened regulatory scrutiny is dawning on the world’s second-largest economy. Global Car manufacturers, technology companies and food companies have faced antitrust probes in the country since last year.

“This sends a warning to companies engaging in global price-fixing that they should beware of China,” said Chen Danzhou, a lecturer specializing in anti-monopoly law at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. “The government is getting more aggressive as it tries to make a structural adjustment to the market.”

This Bloomberg story, co-filed from Shanghai, Tokyo---and Osaka, was posted on their Internet site at 10:39 p.m. Denver time on Tuesday evening---and it's the final offering of the day from Elliot Simon.

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Three King World Blogs

1. John Embry: "Coming Crash to Create a Human Tragedy of Epic Proportions"  2. Grant Williams: "Why the Next Mania in Gold Will Be Parabolic"  3. Doug Kass: "The Final Page in an Age of Innocence"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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China paper denounces 'rampant rascality' of Australia tycoon

A Chinese state-run newspaper on Wednesday called on Beijing to "teach Canberra a lesson" after Australian tycoon and politician Clive Palmer labelled the Communist government "mongrels" who "shoot their own people" in a televised tirade.

The flamboyant mining baron, who is locked in a long-running dispute over royalties and port operations with a state-controlled Chinese company, also called the Chinese "bastards" who "want to take over this country".

In an editorial, the Global Times, a newspaper owned by the Communist Party's mouthpiece the People's Daily, urged Beijing to take "solid actions to punish him".

It labelled the billionaire's comments as "rampant rascality" showing "Australian society has an unfriendly attitude toward China".

Open mouth---insert foot.  Lots of bucks doesn't necessarily translate into lots of brains, regardless of the nationality.

This AFP article appeared on the france24.com Internet site at 9:05 a.m. Europe time on Wednesday morning---and I thank South African reader B.V. for bringing it to our attention.

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Gold and silver prices may not really shine until 2015-6 warns Ross Norman

Arguably London’s most accurate gold forecaster for the past 15 years, Sharps Pixley CEO Ross Norman is warning of single digit gains only for the yellow metal this year, though he has not lost his sights on ‘very much higher prices’ in 2015-16.

His gold forecast last year suggested that 2014 would be a ‘Goldilocks’ year – not too hot and not too cold – with rally fade to both the upside and downside as the market reverted to the mean – so far that view appears to have held true.

Speaking from his office in Berkeley Street he told ArabianMoney that gold and silver prices will only really shine again when there is again a perceived serious inflation threat and he just can’t see one on the immediate horizon.

It's hard to know if he's being serious or not---as there's not a word about the fact that a small group of Commercial traders have captured the price-setting mechanism for all four precious metals, plus copper, on the Comex.  It's also hard to know which of John Embry's three categories Mr. Norman falls.  Is he ignorant, naïve---or complicit?  Considering his background---and current occupation, I would have to cast my vote in favour of 'complicit'.  And if that's the case, he's not exactly telling us the truth in this opinion piece---which I found on the Sharps Pixley website yesterday.

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Tentative signs of stronger Indian gold demand in 2nd half of 2014

Gokulasthami, one of the major festivals celebrated across Maharashtra and some parts of South India, has now got a touch of gold, underscoring what some expect will be stronger second half for gold demand in India as the festival season ramps up.

If anything attracts Indians, it is gold, and gift prizes of gold pots, and gold coins, and even gold plated decorations rouse the masses.

The tradition of Dahi Handi festival on Gokulashtami, celebrated across India on August 18 and 19 this year, relates to a human pyramid breaking an earthen pot filled with buttermilk suspended high above the ground, sometimes well over 50 feet above the ground.

This very interesting gold-related story, filed from Mumbai, was posted on the mineweb.com Internet site yesterday sometime---and the real 'juice' is in the last half-dozen paragraphs.

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Aug 20, 2014

Study Finds 25% of U.S. Troops Use Food Banks

A new study suggests that 25 percent of troops in active duty, Guard and the Reserve use food banks to provide groceries and meals for themselves or their families.

The study sponsored by Feeding America, the nation's largest food bank network, is conducted once every four years and was based on data collected in 2012. It found that four percent of surveyed households who used a food bank contained a currently serving military member.

Based on those results, Feeding America officials estimated that 620,000 of their 46.5 million customers, or about 25 percent of the military population in 2012, used food banks.

This article appeared on the military.com Internet site on Monday---and today's first story is courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon.

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Average Price of Ground Beef Hits All-Time High

The average price for all types of ground beef per pound hit its all-time high -- $3.884 per pound -- in the United States in July, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

That was up from $3.880 per pound in June. A year ago, in July 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.459 per pound. Since then, the average price for a pound of ground beef has gone up 42.1 cents--or about 12 percent.

Five years ago, in July 2009, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $2.147, according to the BLS. In those five years, the average price has climbed by $1.737 per pound--or almost 81 percent.

This article appeared on the cnsnews.com Internet site at 11:10 a.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank reader M.A. for sharing it with us.

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Map: How much $100 is really worth in every state

Not all Benjamins are created equal.

For the first time ever, the federal government this year introduced a data series that compares price differences among states and metropolitan areas. Those estimates — regional price parities and real personal income — offer something simple and immensely useful for anyone considering making a move: They allow you to compare how far your money goes in each state.

You’d squeeze the most out of $100 in Mississippi, where you could use it to buy $115.74 worth of goods and services, relative to the national average. Arkansas comes next, followed by Missouri, Alabama and South Dakota. The state where $100 falls flattest is Hawaii, where that same $100 gets you only $85.32. (D.C., though not a state, is even worse: It would buy you just $84.60 in goods.)

This short, but excellent story, contains a not-to-be-missed chart.  It appeared on the washingtonpost.com Internet site on Monday sometime.  Reader Harry Grant sent it to me in time to make yesterday's column, but I was already 'full up'---so it had to wait until today.

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36% Of Americans Haven’t Saved Anything For Retirement

Over a third of all Americans (36%) have not saved any money for retirement, according to a new Bankrate.com report. Sixty-nine percent of 18-29 year-olds haven’t saved anything, along with 33% of 30-49 year-olds, 26% of 50-64 year-olds and 14% of people 65 and older.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my dear mother for insisting that I start putting away money as soon as I got my first job out of college. It certainly has added up over 25+ years and indeed mother knows best.

The good news is that Americans who are saving are starting earlier. Twice as many 30-49 year-olds started saving in their 20s as opposed to their 30s. But 50-64 year-olds were only slightly more likely to have started saving in their 20s than their 30s, and Americans 65 and older were almost evenly split between starting in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

This commentary appeared on the philadelphia.cbslocal.com Internet site at 10:03 a.m. EDT on Monday---and is another story that didn't make the cut for my Tuesday column, so here it is now---and I thank Howard Wiener for sharing it with us.

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Dr. Dave Janda interviews your humble scribe

The good doctor and I spent 25 minutes together on all-talk radio WAAM1600 out of Ann Arbor Michigan on Sunday---and if you have the time and think you might learn something, have at it.

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Citibank could lose Argentina banking license

If the banking giant obeys a U.S. judge’s order, it risks losing its banking license in Argentina — and the $2 billion it has in local deposits.

But if it follows Argentine law, it risks violating a U.S. federal court order.

Citi finds itself in this precarious position after Manhattan federal court judge Thomas Griesa — who is overseeing the bitter battle between hedge-fund mogul Paul Singer and Argentina over an estimated $3 billion due on bonds defaulted upon in 2001 — ordered the bank not to pay out on some of the country’s locally issued bonds.

Griesa initially exempted Citi’s Argentine law bonds from his sweeping order — stopping payouts to exchange bondholders unless Argentina also paid Singer and other holdout bondholders who demanded full payment.  But Griesa changed his mind last month after learning that some of the bonds for which Citi is custodian were also exchange bonds.

This very interesting "Catch-22" situation appeared on The New York Post website at 10:50 a.m. EDT on Monday morning---and it's courtesy of South African reader B.V.

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Another Eyjafjallajokull? Airlines on alert as Iceland's largest volcano threatens to erupt and create chaos for air travellers

Airlines are on high alert after geologists warned that an Icelandic volcano may be close to erupting.

Officials issued a ‘code orange’ to travel firms after intense seismic activity at the Bardarbunga volcano in the island’s centre.

It is the second highest level of risk, signalling ‘heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption’, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The alert will raise fears of a repeat of the chaos seen when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010.

A dust cloud shut down much of Europe’s airspace for six days, affecting more than ten million people and costing £1.1billion. Passengers were stranded as 100,000 flights were cancelled during the Easter holidays.

This article appeared on the dailymail.co.uk Internet site at 11:26 a.m. BST yesterday---and was updated twice since midnight BST on their Wednesday morning.  It's definitely worth reading---and although you may be shocked by this, I found this story all by myself!

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U.K. ambassador ‘lobbied’ U.S. senators to obscure Britain’s complicity in CIA rendition program

Records published under Britain’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Act have compounded concerns that the U.K. government lobbied U.S. officials to keep Britain’s role in CIA torture and rendition out of a soon-to-be published Senate report.

Newly-released data reveals Britain’s ambassador to the U.S., Peter Westmacott, engaged in at least 21 separate meetings with members of the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) prior to its publication of this report, heightening existing allegations that the British government may be seeking to sanitize the document.

Westmacott met with key Democrats and Republicans on the SSCI throughout the body’s investigation of the CIA program, records obtained by the UK legal charity Reprieve reveal.

Of particular note are two separate meetings with Senator Feinstein in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. government’s decision to publish what is expected to be a damning report on CIA torture, interrogation and rendition.

This very interesting, but not surprising story appeared on the Russia Today Internet site at 12:55 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon, which was 4:55 a.m. EDT---and it's the first offering of the day from Roy Stephens.  It's worth reading if you have the time.

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First Briton pleads guilty to Libor rigging

Paul Robson, a former trader at Rabobank, has become the first Briton to plead guilty to being part of the worldwide conspiracy to rig the Libor interest benchmark.

The executive, who worked at the Dutch bank’s London office, admitted before a New York court to one count of bank fraud and wire fraud, as part of a conspiracy that also involved the taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group.

The scheme, which was designed to boost profits at the companies involved, which affected mortgage rates and pension payments around the world, estimated to have cost the public trillions of pounds.

According to the Department of Justice, Mr Robson worked with two other named Rabobank traders, as well as unnamed traders at other organisations including Lloyds, to manipulate Yen Libor between 2006 and 2011.

This news item showed up on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 11:49 p.m. BST on Monday evening---and I found it in a GATA release yesterday.

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Greek stock recovery fading away as ASE falls 21 pct on valuations

The curtain is coming down on Greece’s star turn with international equity investors.

Among the best-performing Europe gauges in 2013 after the government carried out the world’s biggest-ever debt restructuring, Greece’s ASE Index has become one of the worst, slumping 21 percent as lenders from Piraeus Bank SA to Eurobank Ergasias SA tumbled. Drops are trimming returns that approached 200 percent starting in June 2012 amid investments from hedge funds such as Paulson & Co. and Third Point LLC.

Equities with valuations triple the rest of Europe have come too far to be justified by an economy that is poised to emerge from a six-year recession, says Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S. Investors are looking elsewhere in emerging markets for bargains as sanctions hitting Russia, Greece’s biggest trading partner, disrupt businesses.

“Greece was the trade last year, but I don’t think it’ll be the trade next year,” Garnry said in a phone interview from Hellerup, Denmark. “Investors looking for good returns should look elsewhere.”

This news story appeared on the Greek website ekathimerini.com at 10:55 a.m. local time on Tuesday morning---and it's courtesy of Harry Grant.

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E.U. compensates fruit and veg growers hit by Russian ban

The European Commission has announced emergency E.U. funding of €125m (£100m; $170m) for fruit and vegetable growers hit by Russia's ban on most imported Western food.

The funding is compensation for fresh produce which will not be sold. Instead it will be distributed free to schools, hospitals and other institutions.

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, grapes and pears are included in the scheme.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Monday that the E.U. sanctions must stay in place "in order to show how serious we are" on the Ukraine crisis.

That much money is a drop in the bucket---literally.  I posted a story about this in my Tuesday column, but this BBC article is far more comprehensive---and I thank reader B.V. for his second contribution to today's column.

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Merkel sets limits to NATO solidarity with Baltic states

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said NATO will defend Baltic states if need be, but will not build permanent military bases in the region.

She spoke on Monday (18 August) on a visit to Riga in which she also laid a wreath at the Freedom Monument, a memorial to the Latvian War of Independence against Russia in 1918.

"I want to stress that ... Article V of the NATO contract - the duty to provide mutual support - is not something which just exists on paper, but is also something which must be filled with life”, she told press after meeting Latvian prime minister Laimdota Straujuma.

She noted that German jets will start NATO air policing operations in Latvia on 20 August and that NATO is to build up a rapid reaction force to be used if Russia tries to destabilise its Baltic neighbours on the Ukraine model.

This news item appeared on the euobserver.com Internet site at 9:21 a.m. Europe time on Tuesday morning---and it's the second offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Donetsk Republic Guarantees Safety of Humanitarian Convoy

The government of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has guaranteed safe passage for Russia’s humanitarian convoy and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) employees accompanying it, the republic’s deputy prime minister said Tuesday.

“Our government thinks that the situation in DPR can be described as a humanitarian disaster. Naturally, we want the convoy to visit not only Luhansk, but Donetsk Region cities as well. To that end, we guarantee safety for the drivers of the convoy and ICRC employees,” DPR Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Purgin said.

The prime minister noted that the DPR had already ensured the security of the OSCE mission and international aviation experts on its territory when they arrived in Donetsk to work at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

"Despite all Kiev’s provocations, despite the fact that Kiev started fighting in the area of the crash, we were able to ensure the security of the experts," Purgin said.

This article appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 1:51 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it.

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Kiev must publish record of MH17 communications with traffic control – Russia

Kiev should make public the records of communications between the Ukrainian air traffic control and the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in the hours before it was shot down over Ukraine’s turbulent east, Russia’s UN envoy said.

The issue was among several Russia raised at a U.N. Security Council meeting, which was called by Russia to discuss the progress of the investigation into the tragic incident, which killed 298 people in July, Vitaly Churkin said. Moscow sees the shortage of proper evidence known to the public so far as wrong.

“As far as we know, [UN’s civil aviation watchdog] ICAO is being kept on the sidelines of the investigation, which has been conducted for some time,” Churkin said.

This news item showed up on the Russia Today website at 11:50 a.m. Moscow time yesterday morning---and it's the second contribution in a row from reader M.A.

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Next Weeks ‘Decisive’ for Ukrainian Conflict – Kiev Official

The coming two weeks will be decisive for the peaceful settlement in Ukraine, the Kiev government wants to resolve the conflict through means of diplomacy, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s administration said Tuesday.

“I think that the coming two weeks will be decisive for transforming war into peace. The telephone diplomacy is giving way to direct contacts” Valeriy Chaliy told reporters, commenting on the forthcoming talks due in Minsk and Brussels on August 26 and August 30, respectively.

Earlier the same day, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's press service said officials from Ukraine, the European Union and the so-called 'Eurasian Trio' (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan) will meet in Minsk on August 26 to discuss a number of urgent political and economic issues, including Ukraine's European integration, energy security and the stabilization of the situation in Donbas.

The press service also said Poroshenko had accepted the invitation of President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to visit Brussels on August 30. In addition to the invitation to Brussels, Barroso and Poroshenko discussed by telephone the issues of granting Ukraine the third wave of EU macro-financial assistance.

This is another article from the RIA Novosti website---and this one appeared their at 8:20 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday evening, which was 12:20 p.m. in New York.  This article is courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Battle for Ukraine: An Inside View of the Surreal Donetsk War Zone

It is a thin veneer that separates guests of the Donetsk Park Hotel from the surreal world outside. Inside, we watch BBC in English and ZDF broadcasting news in German. The hotel has electricity and Internet while air conditioning keeps out the summer heat.

OSCE observers sit at the bar drinking Lvivske, a dark Ukrainian beer, for €2.50 ($3.3) a pint, a price that is outrageous for Donetsk. Their shiny white Toyota SUVs are lined up outside, waiting to drive them through the war zone during those moments when it's not too dangerous.

This Thursday is not one of those moments. Shortly before 1 p.m., a salvo of grenades rains down. One's ear quickly gets used to the sounds of war, rapidly learning to halfway reliably tell them apart. This time, though, the detonations are unbelievably loud and very close. Only three minutes after leaving the hotel, I arrive in the midst of misery in this embattled city of Donetsk.

This very interesting boots-on-the-ground commentary was posted on the German website spiegel.de very early yesterday evening Europe time.  It's worth reading---and I thank Roy Stephens for finding it.

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No Weapons Seen Crossing Russian-Ukrainian Border - OSCE

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Special Monitoring Mission working on the Russian-Ukrainian border has not seen any weapons crossing between the countries, an OSCE spokesman working on the Russian side of the border said Tuesday.

“We have not seen any weapons. There was a question of whether we saw military vehicles crossing the border. Yesterday at two [border crossing] points, we didn’t see any military vehicles crossing the border,” Paul Picard said at a briefing.

On August 15, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claimed Ukrainian artillery destroyed Russian military hardware that had allegedly crossed into Ukraine at night.

The announcement came soon after a number of foreign news agencies reported that a convoy of military vehicles with Russian license plates had crossed into Ukraine via the Izvarino border checkpoint.

I said this story was bulls hit when I posted it last week---and now the OSCE spokesman confirms it.  The lies in the Western press are beyond outrageous.  This RIA Novosti article appeared on their Internet site at 1:38 p.m. Moscow time yesterday afternoon---and it's another Roy Stephens offering.

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Ukrainian Refugees Camp in Russia's Rostov Region - 8 Photos

Over 53 thousand Ukrainians fleeing the war zone in southeastern Ukraine, 16,000 of them children, found refuge in Russia's Rostov region by August 14.

According to Russian authorities, over 730,000 Ukrainians were forced to flee their homeland because of war and sought shelter in Russia.

About 58 thousand of them currently reside in temporary accommodation centers.

This brief 8-photo presentation was posted on the RIA Novosti website on Monday---and the photos are worth the trip.  It's another story that Roy dug up for us.

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Getting The Ukraine Narrative Straight: Washington Started This Fight, Not Putin

When even smart people like economist Paul Krugman buy into the false narrative about the Ukraine crisis, it’s hard to decide whether to despair over the impossibility of America ever understanding the world’s problems or to marvel at the power of the U.S. political/media propaganda machine to manufacture its own reality.

On Monday, Krugman’s New York Times column accepts the storyline that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin instigated the Ukraine crisis and extrapolates from that “fact” the conclusion that perhaps the nefarious Putin did so to engineer a cheap land grab or to distract Russians from their economic problems.

Or you could look at the actual facts of how the Ukraine crisis began and realize that it was the West, not Russia, that instigated this crisis. Putin’s response has been reactive to what he perceives as threats posed by the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych and the imposition of a new Western-oriented regime hostile to Moscow and Ukraine’s ethnic Russians.

Robert Parry tells it like it is on this essay posted on the David Stockman website yesterday---and it's the second last offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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'They want their war---and they want it now' - Adrian Salbuchi

If you are playing a game of chess, and the next moves you are considering all inexorably lead to your king falling into checkmate, then you have only two options: you either topple your king and graciously accept defeat, or…

You can kick over the chessboard, refuse to accept defeat, and let all hell break loose...!

Is that what the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse,” namely the elites running the U.S., U.K., E.U. and Israel against their own peoples’ interests, are thinking of doing?

All parents know that if you allow a young brat to do as he pleases by giving in to his yelling and kicking and sobbing every time he does not get his way it will become increasingly hard to get the little monster to mature and behave in an adult and responsible manner.

This could very well be a metaphor for the way the Western powers have been behaving and acting in recent years, especially since 9/11, which for a while gave them a blank check to run amok throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Including the article posted above this one, if I had to pick one other must read article for you today---this would be it for sure.  This is truly what the Ukraine/Russia imbroglio is all about, with all the political niceties stripped away---one of the last puzzle pieces in the New Great Game---and we've just seen 'the flop' with Ukraine---and what the 'turn' and 'river' cards bring, is unknown as of yet.  It's the last contribution of the day from Roy Stephens---and it was posted on the Russia Today website at 1:12 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon.

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Three King World News Blogs

1. Dr. Stephen Leeb: "Russia Continues to Strengthen Ties With Germany and China"  2. Grant Williams: "Why Gold is Headed Into the Stratosphere"  3. Richard Russell: "New, Terrifying Confiscation to Worry About"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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Jim Rickards: Warren Buffett and the Chinese Are Loading Up on Hard Assets

This 2:52 minute video clip with Jim was posted on the dailyreckoning.com Internet site last Friday---and it's worth your time, even though you've probably heard him say all this before.

I thank Harold Jacobsen for sending it our way.

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China allows 3 more banks, including Standard Chartered, to import gold

China has allowed three more banks, including a foreign lender, to import gold, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, as the world's top gold buyer gears up for its strongest effort yet to gain pricing power of the metal.

The move, which brings the number of firms allowed to import gold into China to 15, comes ahead of the launch in September of a new international bullion exchange in Shanghai with which China hopes to become a price-discovery centre.

China and other Asian gold trading centres such as Singapore are calling for more localised pricing of the precious metal as they seek alternatives to the so-called London fix, the global benchmark for spot gold prices, which is being investigated by regulators on suspicion that it may have been manipulated.

This Reuters story, co-filed from Singapore and Shanghai, showed up on their website at 9:08 a.m. BST on Tuesday---and it's something I found on the Sharps Pixley website in the wee hours of yesterday morning.  However, because I was already loaded with stories for my Tuesday column, it had to wait until today.

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Koos Jansen: East Asia geared up for renminbi gold trading

Gold researcher and GATA consultant Koos Jansen reports that off-take from the Shanghai Gold Exchange has been flat for four weeks.

Meanwhile, Jansen writes, "China is developing its market infrastructure not only for physical gold trade but also to expand paper trading to steal pricing power from the dominant forces in the West and to promote the internationalization of the renminbi."

His commentary is headlined "East Asia Geared up for RMB Gold Trading" and it was posted at the bullionstar.com Internet site minutes before midnight local time on Monday.  I found this, along with the above paragraphs of introduction, on the gata.org Internet site yesterday.

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India gold smuggling explodes YoY

According to figures released by the government, between April and June it intercepted $44 million worth of smuggled gold at the country’s airports. That compares with $82 million in the year ended March 31.

Last year, between April and July, the Mumbai airport customs had seized 61.46 kilograms gold, while this year until July, it had seized 403.52 kilograms. The customs officials at the Chennai airport in the South, have also reported seizing much more gold than last year.

Plainly put, thanks to the high import duty imposed last year on the yellow metal by the Indian Government to bring down the nation’s fiscal deficit, gold smuggling is thriving across the country. Last year, the government had hiked the duty to 10 per cent.

Cases of gold smuggling at the two city airports in Mumbai alone have gone up over six times this year, with the customs department recording as many as 497 cases in four months from April, as compared to 79 cases in the corresponding period last year.

This gold-related news item appeared on the mineweb.com Internet site on Monday---and it's worth reading.

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Britain's fat cat pay gap hits new heights as average blue-chip chief executive earns 143 times more than his workers

The High Pay Centre’s research found the widest pay gap at miner Randgold Resources, where boss Mark Bristow earned almost 1,500 times his employees, many of whom are miners based at its sites in Africa.

Bristow received £4.4 million, while his average worker got just £2,968. Second on the list was Sir Martin Sorrell of media giant WPP, who took home a package worth £29.8million – almost 800 times more than his average worker’s salary of £38,265.

If you remember, yesterday's column was headlined "Randgold CEO Just Shrugs as Gold Mining Industry Produces More Metal at a Loss."  If you want to know one of the reasons that the executives of precious metal miners don't care about the price of the product they mine, or their shareholders---and why they won't pursue the price management scheme, you need to look no further than this.  I thank reader 'h c' for digging this story out of the Sunday edition of London's Daily Mail. The first part of the story is worth reading.

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Pierre Lassonde, Franco-Nevada: “Very Few People ‘Get’ This… But It’s Worth So Much Money”

This edition of Sprott's Thoughts is an interview of Pierre Lassonde by Henry Bonner over at sprottglobal.com on Tuesday.

Lassonde is another executive who is more than familiar with the precious metal price management scheme---and who is pretty much bought and paid for as well.

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Lawrence Williams: Is the LBMA Silver Price more transparent than the Fix? No!

So now we have had three days of the new LBMA Silver Price – the new name for the London Silver Fixing given that the term ‘Fix’ is somewhat discredited in modern-day parlance.  The banks involved in the old system, which had fallen to two, wanted to withdraw from it, in part because they felt the process, even if it was a totally honest system, which it probably was, could lay them open to having to defend expensive, and probably spurious, lawsuits and the London Bullion Market Association took upon itself to go out and set up some kind of new silver benchmarking process at very short notice. 

And is this new process any more transparent than the old one – one of the main charges laid against the old Silver fixing process.  The answer so far is probably not!  

Although one assumes it could become more open as the markets get to understand how it operates its new rather obscure process dealing in lakhs of silver rather than ounces, and in converting it back to a per ounce price.  (A lakh is a South Asian term for 100,000 units – in this case ounces.)  Why on earth such a measure was chosen defeats us – it just seems to be another way to obfuscate what should be a relatively straightforward process.

Amen to that---and everyone is in total agreement.  This commentary by Lawrie was posted on the mineweb.com Internet site yesterday---and it's worth the read.

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